The ABC’s of Slips, Trips and Falls in NY
Many people have days where we roll out of bed with two left feet or couldn’t stay out of the clouds if they dropped a cartoon anvil on our heads. Some of us call those Mondays! Then, there are some people who are just born with the natural grace of a blind buffalo. Those of us in these categories know that lack of grace, whether temporary or chronic, always makes for disasters of the humiliating variety; the most common of which are slips, trips and/or falls. We consulted the Queens personal injury lawyers of The Orlow Firm to determine what are the best steps to take if someone is involved in a slip and fall accident.
What Are Considered Slips, Trips and Falls in New York?
This doesn’t refer to every mishap, such as instances when you have a few drinks at your birthday bash and plummet face-first into the bar floor, or you spin the baby one too many times and the coffee table breaks your tailbone (while the baby turns red with giddy laughter). Everyone knows exactly how those boo-boos happened. The phrase “slip, trip, and fall” means an incident that occurs in a public place due to abnormal circumstances, such as large cracks in the ground, unattended spills, “blind spot obstacles” (objects you can’t see until it’s too late because they are located around a sharp corner, at the top of an incline, etc.), and other unsafe surprises. Falling victim to such maladies is embarrassing anywhere, but in a busy place like New York City, Butt-Buster is likely to become your nickname on the lips of every person and business within a 50-block radius.
It’s Only Funny Until Someone Gets Hurt
If you find that the reason you’re not laughing with all of NYC is because of physical discomfort rather than mortification, you may be seriously injured. If you have a friend or relative with you who can provide a play-by-play recap of the accident, you’re in luck, because the first thing anyone will ask is that you fill out an incident report. Be sure that your witness sticks to nothing but the truth, because if a camera can refute any part of your tale (and it will, if you fib), any medical claims or treatment will be on your tab. If, however, you are alone in your unfortunate event, ask anyone if they saw what happened, and if they would be willing to stay with you and recount the details for your report.
Wait until a manager, supervisor, or other proper authority figure (such as a police officer or city spokesperson, if you fall on a public sidewalk) arrives before attempting to stand. Moving from the spot in which you fell can sometimes nullify an accident report before one is ever filed in New York, because the city official or business owner can decide that your injuries are not severe enough to warrant compensation. Kill some time by taking pictures of yourself in your fallen position, the area around you, and specifically the broken ground or spill that created your predicament. Those could come in handy later, as you’ll see.
Proof, Proof, Proof! Documenting A Slip and Fall in New York
New York is no exception to the saying, “seeing is believing.” Don’t let your claim rest solely on your statements and the recollection of your witness, even if you both tell the absolute truth. Depending on the severity of your injuries, the business owner or the city could stand to lose a great deal of money if forced to compensate you, and will therefore use any piece of evidence available that could deem them not liable.
If you have a phone or tablet device on hand, take a video immediately after the incident, as well as once the appropriate authority has helped you off the ground. Record your witness’s initial statement and comments, but take care to omit profanity and verbal threats. Those things are taken very seriously in New York, and can land you in jail rather than in a doctor’s office. Just record everything you see around you, relay the events exactly as they happened, and be sure to note your attire, in case an issue of dress code arises.
Take SEVERAL pictures. If you slipped on a spill, be sure to photograph the area around the spill. Was there a “Caution” sign posted anywhere in the vicinity, as required? Was an employee guarding the hazard until help arrived? Even if there was something you could have done to prevent the accident, you may not be entirely at fault if the responsible entity did not take certain safety measures, so capture EVERYTHING!
If someone tries to impede your evidence collection in any way, be sure to catch that on camera, too! No law-abiding New Yorker should try to stop you from obeying the law in a slip, trip and fall incident. A person who tries to block crucial shots or uses abusive language to frighten you away without your proof should definitely be held responsible. However, the only way that will happen is if you can prove it!
What Are Your Rights In A New York Slip and Fall Accident?
Your rights in a slip, trip, and fall accident do not stop at collecting your proof and having your witness’s statements officially recorded. You are entitled to the reasonable medical treatment of any immediate wounds, as well as a drug test at the request of the entity with which you filed your injury claim. If the test comes back negative, you will not be held accountable for the expense of the test; if its positive you have to pay, and the other party will be released from all liability. If the authorities and medical professionals concur that your accident and injuries occurred through no fault of your own, you have the right to seek payment or reimbursement for any medical treatment or time missed from work, until you receive a doctor’s medical release. If the other party refuses to comply or initiates court proceedings to argue liability, you may choose to represent yourself with your witness and evidence, or you can hire a qualified Queens personal injury lawyer. You also have the right to refuse any unreasonable settlement offers the other party makes, or to accept an offer, if your personal injury attorney approves.